Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Leiden Learner Corpus

First set up in 2015, the Language Learner Corpus (LLC) project collected language data of over 150 language students. We have now launched new communicative tasks to collect longitudinal data of language learners at Leiden University.

Nivja de Jong

With re-designed communicative speaking and writing tasks, we aim to further develop the LLC by investigating the language acquisition of students over a period of 2 years. Collecting this written and spoken data will allow researchers to gain more insight into how young adults learn a foreign language. In the long-run, data yielded from this project will allow for longitudinal evaluations on specific languages as well as for comparisons across languages.

Not only will the research community benefit from this project, language teachers will be able to use the re-designed tests as part of their teaching curriculum. Both teachers and students will be able to access assessment sheets, gaining valuable insight into their language learning progress. If you are a language teacher at Leiden University and are interested in using the LLC test, please contact Nivja de Jong.

*All test results will be fully anonymised and made available for academic use (both at Leiden University and internationally for research into language acquisition and related fields).

As a language teacher, we hope you are as enthusiastic as we are about the communicative tasks. Use it as part of your teaching curriculum and gain insight into your students' language acquisition. With your help and the participation of your students we will be able to further build and develop the corpus.

Based on input from participants during several sessions organised by the university platfrom Language Learning Resource Centre (LLRC), we have designed communicative tasks and assessment materials. The tasks follow CEFR can-do statements and can be used at different proficiency levels. We ask teachers to run the test once per semester. This allows teachers to easily incorporate testing as part of the teaching curriculum, either in class, as a homework assignment or assigned as additional practice material.

Who can use the test?

Currently, we are able to provide the tasks in the following languages: Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Mandarin and Italian. Access these tests by contacting Nivja de Jong.

If you are interested in using them in any other language, please contact us as we may need to have specific information translated beforehand. 

How can you use the test as a teacher? 

You can use the test as part of your teaching curriculum. You can even use the test as part of your students' overall assessment and final grades.

We have designed the tasks using the online survey tool Qualtrics. If you are interested in running this language test, we will provide you with the necessary links, so you can distribute them to your students. All tasks can be completed in or outside the classroom; students only need access to a mobile device and internet. 

If you would like to see an overview of the tasks before using them, please let us know.

Who can take part?

We are focusing on 2 groups of participants:

  1. Dutch language learners of Mandarin, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, or Russian.
  2. Non-Dutch natives learning Dutch

Other requirements:

  • you are preferably (but not necessarily) a student at Leiden University or have a comparable educational background
  • you are ideally between 16 and 35 years old
  • you should be able to speak and understand English (test instructions are in English)

What tasks will I be asked to complete?

You will be asked to complete the following tasks:

  • fill out a questionnaire about your language learning history
  • three types of speaking tasks
  • one writing task 

The first speaking task is an individual task in which you will see pictures and be asked to talk about them for 2-5 minutes. The second and the third speaking tasks are interactive; you will be pairing up with another participant. Once again, based on pictures, the two of you will either discuss different topics or develop a story including the depicted items. Finally, there is a writing task in which you will be asked to write a discussion board entry for a proposed forum and topic. 

You will have the opportunity to save your own speech recordings and copy your writing so that you will be able to keep track of your progress throughout the semesters. We also provide task-specific formative assessment sheets that you and/or your teacher are able to fill out.

Where should I perform the tasks?

The test is conducted using the online survey tool Qualtrics, so it is accessible on any mobile device with internet access and can be taken at your own convenience. Depending on your teacher, you will be asked to take the test in the classroom or elsewhere, as long as the environment is reasonably quiet (please refrain from recording in noisy areas, such as a lounge or in a café). For the paired speaking tasks, it is not necessary to be in the same room, as long as you both have means to speak to each other through an application.

How long does it take to complete the tasks?

One round of the tasks will take about an hour. 

Do participants get paid?

We unfortunately do not have the means to pay participants for their participation. However, we have tried to design the tasks, including the assessment sheets, so that participants receive valuable insight into their language learning and progress.

What will happen to my data once I have completed the test?

All data will be anonymised immediately after the test is completed. The data is stored safely at Leiden University and is available for research purposes. In the long-run, we plan to make the data available to the international scientific community via secure research websites (secure login required).

If your language teacher chooses to use the tasks as part of his or her teaching curriculum, he or she will be able to extract the data themselves. This means that files will be traceable to students but only for those particular teachers. In this way, teachers are able to use the tasks as part of their teaching.

*See also Student Instructions*


Nivja de Jong

I first learned about the Leiden Learner Corpus when I started working at Leiden University in 2017. Together with Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto and Felix Ameka we received funding for preserving language and linguistics data at LUCL. In addition to making the LLC accessible for researchers, I became enthusiastic about building tasks as well as an infrastructure that would allow for sustainable data collection for a longitudinal language learning corpus. I really enjoyed the meetings we organised through LLRC with the language teachers; their comments proved to be helpful and necessary in order for us to improve the communicative tasks.

Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto

I started working on a pilot for the The Leiden Learner Corpus (LLC) in the academic year 2015-2016, together with El Mauder, Johanneke Caspers and Mike Child. The pilot LLC consisted of written and spoken data by Dutch learners of Romance languages (French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) and by learners of Dutch with a variety of native languages. It also included control data from native speakers of all five languages.  I was really pleased that Nivja de Jong was interested in developing the LLC into a sustainable  platform that will make it possible to test learners multiple times over the course of their language learning, allowing not only cross-linguistic comparisons, but also longitudinal, within-subjects comparisons.

Miriam Greidanus Romaneli

I collaborated in the LLC during my Research MA in Linguistics. I was involved in the planning and creation of the language tasks and formative assessment tools used in the LLC, while incorporating the feedback of language teachers. I also helped adapt the tasks for online and longitudinal data collection, and created a tool for data processing. My research interests include the neural mechanisms underlying bilingualism and second language acquisition, which I have continued to explore during a master’s in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Donders Institute (Nijmegen).

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